Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Language Education

Subject Categories

Applied Linguistics


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Dept of English and Applied Linguistics

Thesis Advisor

Leah E. Gustilo

Defense Panel Chair

Aireen B. Arnuco

Defense Panel Member

Jonna Marie A. Lim
Nimfa G. Dimaculangan


The rapidly spreading infectious disease known as COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world and has created a specialized language. The present study aims to identify the various word-formation processes which are categorized under the medical, economic, social, and political lexemes. These categories reflect the coronalexicon used by the people in communicating medical and health-related information, the effects of the pandemic in the economy, the social behaviors affected by the war against the virus, and rising political and government-implemented programs. The investigation is focused on the meanings and extent of the use of pandemic lexemes across sampled English varieties (L1, L2 Asian, L2 African Englishes). This present study is underpinned by theoretical frameworks that explain why and how a language evolves (Linguistic Society of America, 1991; Aitchison, 2001; Yule, 2006; Crowley & Bowern, 2010 as cited in Assif Am-David, 2014; Liberman, 2020). It promotes the notion that turbulent times (e.g. wars in the past) or social crisis usher in lexical innovation. Data sources were derived from the News On Web (NOW) corpus with around 12.8 billion words. The corpus was searched starting from January 1, 2020 to June 1, 2021

The comprehensive study identified 571 pandemic words drawn from the News on the Web (NOW) corpus dating from January 1, 2020 to June 1, 2021. The investigation focused on the meanings of the identified words, which a linguist and a public health official validated. The terms on the social category of the pandemic lexicon constitute 43% of the overall wordlist. The second most extended list is the medical terms, constituting almost one-third of the total pandemic lexicon identified from the corpus. Terms in the economics category constitute 23% of the coronalexicon. Lastly, political terms representing governments' war with Covid-19 constitute 4% of the total words.

The word-formation processes that operated in the production of the pandemic lexemes are compounds, blends, affixation, acronyms, and back-formation. Of the 571 pandemic lexemes listed, almost 90 percent of them are compounds. The most productive type is the compound adjectives, followed by endocentric compounds. Both blends and affixation constitute only 5%. Prefixes used are a~, anti~, non~, inter~, intra~, pre~, post~, con~, mid~, and near~ and suffixes used are ~ic, ~al, ~ly, and ~wise. One percent of the entire wordlist is comprised of acronyms. Finally, there is only one word under the back-formation category.

Moreover, the findings revealed that L1 countries have the highest frequency of use on the pandemic lexemes, have the most number of prevalent or high-frequent pandemic lexemes , and they have produced the highest number of unique word combinations. L2 Asian Englishes, on the one hand, closely followed L1 countries when it comes to frequency of use. Even though the results of the prevalent and unique words in L2 Asia and L2 Africa are not high compared with L1 countries, it still shows that the varieties of English can establish and extend their lexicon. L2 African Englishes have also shown evidence of lexical creativity on pandemic lexemes. Because of social conditions and language coping mechanisms against various stressors, language speakers naturally coin words to address their experiences, leading to lexical innovation using different word-formations experiences.

The pandemic intensifies the people's language coping mechanism from the pandemic's various stressors, such as disruption of daily living, joblessness, the rise of psychosocial issues, violence between family and children, economic fall, and most of all, extreme fear and anxiety. The pandemic proves that the varied experiences of the people and the need to address them through language coping mechanism paved the way to expand the vocabulary of different English varieties.

The study results are a great contribution to the body of information that strengthens and support intercultural communication. Further, it also informs policy-making by different agencies, especially the medical health sector so that the language of communication during social crises is sensitive to different contextual processes. Indeed, not all new coinages will become widespread and permanent in the word stock of any given variety. However, given the seriousness and long-lasting implications of the Coronavirus, the documentation of the language upheaval during the pandemic and the contribution of COVID-related terms to the vocabulary of first and second language varieties are enormous.

Abstract Format






Physical Description

391 leaves


COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-; Corpora (Linguistics); Lexical grammar; Creativity (Linguistics); Epidemics--Language

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